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What asylum and refugee policies do we want? New evidence from an analysis of public policy attitudes in eight European countries.


What asylum and refugee policies do we want? New evidence from an analysis of public policy attitudes in eight European countries.


A lecture by Professor Martin Ruhs (Migration Policy Centre, the European University Institute, Florence)

Source: youtube
Date: 18 November 2019

The study, a first in its kind, found that Europeans are most likely to support policies that prioritise conditional and limited protection for asylum seekers and refugees. Researchers at the European University Institute (EUI) and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) surveyed 12,000 people in eight EU Member States: Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain and Sweden.

The researchers looked at the structure of asylum and refugee policy preferences across six policy dimensions. They studied the regulation of applications for asylum, resettlement of recognised refugees and the return of unsuccessful asylum seekers to countries where they could face serious harm. Furthermore, they also addressed family reunification for refugees, national and EU decision-making and financial assistance for non-EU countries hosting refugees. The researchers collected insights on how preferences depend on the design of the asylum and refugee policies, in particular on the use of limits and conditions. They found similar preferences for protection with limits and conditions in all eight countries surveyed, including in Poland and Hungary, countries with governments that are well-known for their resistance to accepting asylum seekers and refugees. For example, with regard to the regulation of family reunification for recognised refugees, Poles and people in most other European countries included in the study prefer asylum and refugee policies that limit family reunification to those refugees who can pay for the living costs of their incoming family members. At the same time, policies that completely abolish family reunification for all recognised refugees are less likely to be supported by the public than polices that grant family reunification without any conditions.

This type of analysis of asylum and refugee policies is new. There has been plenty of research in recent years on public attitudes to immigration and migrants in general, less on attitudes to asylum seekers and refugees, and near to none on what Europeans think about different dimensions of asylum and refugee policies. This new research can help inform ongoing policy debates on how to reform asylum and refugee policies in Europe and beyond.

The study is part of the Mercator Dialogue on Asylum and Migration, financed by Stiftung Mercator.

What asylum and refugee policies do Europeans want? Evidence from a cross-national conjoint experiment

Authors: Anne-Marie Jeannet, Esther Ademmer, Martin Ruhs and Tobias Stöhr

Professor Martin Ruhs is Chair in Migration Studies and Deputy Director of the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence. He is on leave from the University of Oxford. Martin’s research focuses on the economics and politics of international migration, with a strong international comparative dimension. His books include The Price of Rights. Regulating International Labour Migration (Princeton University Press 2013), Bridging the Gaps: Linking Research to Public Debates and Policy-Making on Migration and Integration (Oxford University Press 2019, co-edited with Kristof Tamas and Joakim Palme), and Who Needs Migrant Workers? Labour Shortages, Immigration and Public Policy (Oxford University Press 2010, co-edited with B. Anderson). He is currently working on a research monograph on “multinational corporations, migrant labour and the nation state”, and a collaborative research project (with Joakim Palme and colleagues at Uppsala University) on “national institutions and the politics of free movement in the European Union”, funded by Horizon2020.


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